I have to confess, I am a committed user of synthetic pipe bags and have been using them since around 1998. It was a conscious decision I made, due to a frustration around moisture control issues and the inconsistency of sheepskins I had experienced for many years. Synthetic bags and Moisture control devices were necessary for me to obtain the sound quality and stability that I require to compete at the highest level. Not having to limit my practice time was a huge forward step at that time. Knowing that my drones wouldn’t get wet in the contests and recitals was a great confidence builder.
In October 2009, I decided to try the Bannatyne Hide ‘Hybrid’ pipe bag. It was just something I felt I should do as the previous bag I was playing for a number of years seemed all of a sudden to be giving me problems with my left arm. I think it had been for some time, but it was a gradual thing and someone pointed out that the bag was sitting on top of my wrist.
I tried a few different sizes of Bannatyne and decided on the Extended Small Bag. I also liked the medium which sat well under my armpit but was perhaps a bit too big where the forearm is positioned.
For some time I used the Extended Small but it was always just a shade small. I got talking to Craig Bannatyne and he listened to what I was saying and made a few adjustments. Basically I was looking for a bag with the girth nearer medium but with more forearm room. A few adjustments later, and the bag arrived. Immediately it was exactly what I wanted. The added bonus to less pressure on the tendons in the forearm was the fact that it didn’t seem to slip at all. Life was good!
A few months later, I had recommended a few friends had tried the bag and came up with the same comments and feelings as myself.
It seemed the logical step to work with Bannatyne on marketing the WMC shape. The WMC bag is available in Hide or Synthetic but is only available in one size.
People write often with quick comments about the shape. One person wrote the following to a friend of mine:
“Just a note that my Bannatyne Willie McCallum bag arrived today. It is a vast improvement over the extended small which is the best bag I have tried outside of sheepskin.
The new WC solved some top hand problems because the chanter is higher, closer to the body, and the sloped neck of the bag takes any pressure off the left wrist.
The forward positioning of the drones allows them to easily strike in and go under the arm without any further adjustments. You get a nice vertical stand on the drones making them easier to reach for tuning, more comfortable and better balanced on the middle of the players body.
Finally someone put the blowstick on the right side of the bag so that it naturally is at the front of the mouth. Suddenly I don’t need my string tied to bass and blowstick stock to get it in the correct position.
The bag is a bit bigger around in circumference than the extra small but with the positioning of the stocks I hardly noticed.
Overall, the bag makes for a much more comfortable playing position and offers a natural reach for the arms to the chanter. I tend not to be impressed with the new pipe stuff that comes along as it usually is only a gimmick ( that is a money trap which offers no results).
This is truly a revolutionary bag, designed by a real player for fellow pipers. I have been playing it throughout the evening with more and more joy and a lot less fatigue.
I know your friends with Willie so please share this with him if you would.
All the best….
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